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Yet another seedling problem

Posted by armymomma CenTX 8 (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 14, 10 at 17:05

I'm about to bite the bullet and give up on my tomato seedlings. I have 12 varieties of tomatoes, all from commercial seed, that I seeded on January 14th. They started out great and I potted them up after they developed their first set of true leaves. I've kept them under lights for ~14 hours a day.

About 2 weeks I had an issue with mold growing on the soil (at this time I had them in the garage and a combination of cold temps and too much water was the cause I believe). I fixed this by putting them in the laundry room and airing them out with a fan.

Now the problem is that several of the plants have lower leaves that are curling and dying. I've noticed that the backsides of many plants leaves are purplish or outright purple. Some of the plants appear to be limp, even after watering.

I've been very judicious with the water, waiting until the soil has almost dried out. I was using a dilute garret juice once a week for fertilizer and had occasionally sprayed the surface of the soil with a dilution of seaweed (as I was told it would help with the mold).

I used half strength plant food (10-10-10) for the first time 2 days ago thinking it's some deficiency. SHould I have seen an improvement, or does the purplish tint indicate its too far gone?

For what its worth, the top leaves don't have that purplish tint on *most* plants. Some are worse than others.

I feel like I should just start over, which I suppose I could do (4 weeks to last frost here, so 6 week transplants would put me at April 1st).

Thoughts or suggestions welcome. Thank you!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Pictures would be super helpful if available. Is it at all possible that the leaves that are curling and dying are the original, baby seed leaves? It's my experience that many times the original cotyledon 'baby leaves' die off once the real leaves get going. The purplish color is probably just from the cooler air temps they had in the garage; shouldn't hurt them any. I remember the pic you posted before, and it seemed like a good, healthy looking seedling. I wouldn't give up yet.

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Here is my photobucket account, ignore the non-related pics in there :)

I am thinking the pictures don't do my issue justice, but i'm beside myself. It seems that the worst ones affected are Sungold Select, Cour di Bue, Flame/Hillbilly and then just random others (like 1 of 3 Black Cherry).

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatos in Photobucket

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Hmmm, ok, pics helped a lot. Now, I am no expert, and I hope others chime in here and give their feedback, but to my eye, those seedlings look WAY too big for the cups they are in. The purpling looks like no big deal to me, but I wonder if the leaf-curl issue is related to them not having enough room for their roots to spread. I would pot them up in containers at least twice the size of those, and I would bury them all the way up to where the first leaves start. At least try it on a few of them and see what they do. I bet if you turn one of those seedlings out, you'll see they are very rootbound. Also, girl, they are going to be in gallon containers before your 4 weeks is up. :) That's my very humble opinion, curious to hear what anybody else thinks.

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Your water probably has a lot of iron it. I would add some phosphorus and they will turn right around.

I would not worry about it, they will be fine in the long run.

They do look like they need water though!

I would try bottom watering, add a few inches to a pan and let them drink for 30 mins. and whatever they don't 'suck-up' just pour out.

You could also turn up the heat a bit, they may just be a little cold.

I would keep up your fertilizing routine though, they love the nutrients.

I think your containers are the right size for now, but sleepy is right, you are going to have to transplant them a few more times before you can get them outside, even in TX. I would only 'deep' transplant them once though. It looks like you have done it once already, so I wouldnt do it again.

Good Luck, they will be fine... don't give up!


size issues

Oh good, I'm glad there is more input. :) I have always planted out my tomato seedlings way before they were this big, so I don't have a lot of experience. It's so hard for me to tell size perspective in photos, too, maybe it's the angles on some of them. Like this one makes the plant look about 4 times as big as the cup that it's in


But then this one looks fine, but it also looks like a much smaller seedling than the first one; is it?


And then you're right, the dirt does look really dry in some of the pics.

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Well crap, I seriously don't have enough room to pot ALL of them up to bigger containers. Right now I'm weighing the options of starting another batch of seeds (this time doing only 2-3 of each variety) and seeing what happens. It might even be better as that will take me April 1st, when the soil is warmer. Decisions, decisions...

Anotehr seedling problem

They are all about the same size, which the exception of 3-4 of them, which are about 2 inches bigger than the rest. Some of the dirt may look dry as I tried potting up the ones where the lower leaves fell off, thinking that might help them and I just did not have a chance to water those.

These seedlings are only a month old! I suppose I could do 2 more weeks inside and pray for good weather...or use a hoop house if I can make one. Or I can start over. But that would mean more lights. LOL. Maybe you all should vote on it and let me know what to do.

RE: Yet another seedling problem

I wouldn't give up on those seedlings. They do not look that bad, and you say you only have 4 weeks hold tight to them:)

Now onto your issues...the purpling color could be coming from temperatures. Not sure what they are experiencing, but once you'll get them out they'll be fine....and I don't see that much purple on your pictures.

Your watering regime seems fine...just make sure the cups are light feeling, and that you aren't going by what the surface looks like....that could be very deceiving and cause some issues with cold/wet, then that causing the purpling.

We fertilize our seedlings minimally...only with fish emulsion....we don't want them going crazy in their temporary homes....and we don't want them giving oodles of vegetative growth. You might be seeing a nutrient overload happening...esp. with the 10-10-10 applications.

And finally, some varities have very, very wispy foliage. I am not familiar with those you are growing....but alot of paste tomatoes have droopy foliage....somewhat like they would be lacking water.

Hope this helps...

RE: Yet another seedling problem

I second Naturemitch

Don't give up on them.

This is half the fun.

We live and we learn and we laugh.

Keep your head up.... really...they look fine!


RE: Yet another seedling problem

Well, you could start some more seeds as a backup; if this is what they look like after a month, you know they will be big enough by then! Do you have a bright, sunny window? Maybe you could start transitioning these guys to sunlight and start hardening them off to go outside (you can always bring them in if you're expecting a cold snap), and that way free up some room under your lights for the new seeds? Just kind of use these guys as a 'practice run' and experiment with light, water, etc. Or buy more lights... haha. :) Just some ideas.

RE: Yet another seedling problem

Ok, first let me say thank you for all the words of encouragement. I think I was scared into not watering the tomatoes for fear of killing them via water. Well I went ahead and gave each one a complete soaking. I checked to see if they were root bound, which although they did not appear to be to my untrained eye, the roots *are* at the bottom and sides of the cups, so I am guessing the water wasn't reaching them.
It's a learning process right? I thoroughly watered all of them, and while some of them still have bottom leaves that look like they are going to fall off, the tops have perked up considerably and are giving me hope they may just survive.

That being said, I am going to start one more round of tomatoes (one of each variety) just in case. A little bit of insurance if you will :)

I am glad you don't mind my question though. I am sure I will have many more as the season progresses.

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